Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Children's Museum Announce Innovative Partnership to Bring Family Library to Crown Heights

February 14, 2017

BPL Plans to Relocate Leased Brower Park Branch, Which Requires $5.6 Million in Repairs 

New library will lend resources from Brooklyn Children’s Museum collection, books for all ages 

BROOKLYN, NY—An innovative new partnership between Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (BCM) proposes to bring a new family library to Crown Heights, introducing a groundbreaking cultural resource to families in Central Brooklyn and ensuring an ongoing library presence in the neighborhood, BPL and BCM announced today. 

In addition to traditional book lending for patrons of all ages, the new family library will also lend objects from BCM’s 30,000-piece collection, offering an invaluable resource to parents and educators in the community, who will be able to borrow authentic cultural and natural science objects to enhance learning. The Brower Park Family Library will be one of the only collections lending libraries in the country. 

“Our partnership with the Brooklyn Children’s Museum will leverage the considerable resources of both institutions to provide children and families with a cultural and educational resource unlike any other in New York City,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson. “In this new, one-of-a-kind library, literature and the arts will come alive alongside history and science, as we put our collections into the hands of children, families and educators from Crown Heights and beyond.” 

“When Brooklyn Children’s Museum was founded in 1899, the Museum housed a lending library for books and collections objects. 118 years later, we are proud to be partnering with our friends at Brooklyn Public Library to bring these services back to the Museum’s building, and to ensure a committed home for a branch library in Crown Heights for generations to come,” said Brooklyn Children’s Museum President and CEO Stephanie Hill Wilchfort. “No other children’s museum in the world offers a collections lending library, and this partnership continues BCM’s tradition of innovative family programming.” 

As the first family library in New York City, the possibilities for inspiring cultural interest in a new generation of young people are limitless. For example, a teacher might show her students a set of Ojibwe moccasins as they read Louise Erdrich’s The Birchback House, or a parent might borrow a mask from Zimbabwe to enliven a reading of John Steptoe’s Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters with his child.

While young people and families are the branch’s most frequent users and will be among the chief beneficiaries of the Library’s partnership with the Museum, the needs of patrons of all ages will be considered during the design of the project, and adults will continue to be served at the new branch.

Opened in 1963, the current Brower Park branch is the smallest public library in Brooklyn, yet it contributes significantly to BPL’s $300 million in unfunded capital needs, with necessary improvements—including a new roof, HVAC system and boiler—totaling $5.6 million. Brower Park is one of the Library’s few leased branches, owned by and subject to the interests of a private landlord. Purchasing the property to avoid the uncertainty of staying in a leased space would cost the City an estimated additional $3 million, and the process would take several years, compounding the amount needed to fix the branch. 

Brower Park Library will relocate to the ground floor of the BCM, in a space approximately the same size as the current branch, accessible from Brooklyn Avenue between St. Mark’s Avenue and Prospect Place. The partnership will alleviate BPL of over $8 million in unnecessary investment while building a more modern and comfortable branch to serve the community. By co-locating in a city-owned space, the Library and Museum are ensuring the presence of a public library in the neighborhood for decades to come.

BPL will pay the museum a rent equivalent to what it currently pays for its leased space. The design and build-out of the new library will cost $3 million; BCM is working to raise that amount in public funding in spring 2017. Pending public capital funding, the Museum will work with BPL to make the new space available by early 2019. BPL would continue to operate its current leased branch until the new library opens. 

More details on the project are available here

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About Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest library system in the United States with 60 neighborhood libraries located throughout the borough. BPL offers free programs and services for all ages and stages of life, including a large selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, literacy programs and public computers. BPL’s eResources, such as eBooks and eVideos, catalog information and free homework help, are available to customers of all ages 24 hours a day at our website: www.bklynlibrary.org

About Brooklyn Children’s Museum

A pioneer in education, Brooklyn Children’s Museum (BCM) was the first museum created expressly for children when it was founded in 1899. Its success has sparked the creation of 300 children’s museums around the world. The Museum’s mission is to provide first cultural experiences for children and families that inspire curiosity, creativity, and lifelong love of learning through award-winning, hands-on exhibits; innovative use of collections; programs and performances; and school and afterschool programs. Proud to have called Crown Heights home for over 118 years, the Museum serves over 265,000 people annually, 80% of whom are Brooklyn families.

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Brooklyn Public Library is an independent New York City library system serving the borough of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest in the United States. Its Central Library, Business Library, and 58 neighborhood libraries offer free information, programs and computer access to people of all ages. You can reach the Library's resources of over 70 reference databases, catalog information and news 24 hours a day at www.bklynlibrary.org